A VOLUNTEER has received the British Empire Medal for her work with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Rosemary Ritchie was born in Edinburgh and educated at Craiglockhart Primary and Boroughmuir High schools.
Her involvement with the coastguard began in 1984. She began working in the RNLI shop at Queensferry Lifeboat Station in 1996 and went on to become manager four years later.
Rosemary – now 81 – recalled: “I grew up in Edinburgh, but in 1947 we moved to Kinghorn in Fife, where my parents owned a small boarding house. We were there for quite a number of years, until I eventually got a job with Hewlett-Packard, which is how I landed here in Queensferry.
“My next-door neighbour did a lot of work for the lifeboats.
“She introduced me to it and that’s how it all started. In those days, we didn’t do very much. I was just a member and the shop was just a small collapsible table in front of the lifeboat station.
“There were so many other people involved in it, not just me, and we all took turns to run it once a month. The involvement with me seriously didn’t start until I retired. I became souvenir secretary, which I’ve been for a number of years.”
The shop sells “all sorts of little things”, with the profits going to the RNLI. The Queensferry base is the busiest inshore lifeboat station in Scotland. Last year, it launched 67 times.
Rosemary said the shop had gone through huge changes since she first started working there in the 1980s, when it was only a portable counter outside the station.
She said: “They started to improve the station, adding little bits here and there, and later on we actually got the use of the engineers’ workshop.
“We were able to turn it into a kind of shop, and we got a very modern trolley which held our knick-knacks and the things we sold. We used to pull that into the workshop and pull the shutter down and that was it all locked up. It was a great improvement from when we first started.”
Rosemary was awarded her British Empire Medal at a ceremony at City Chambers on Monday. She attended the ceremony with family and friends, and received the medal from Lord Provost Donald Wilson. She said she was “very proud”, and that the ceremony was “absolutely wonderful” with “first-class hospitality”, but insisted she could not have run such a successful shop without the help she received from fellow volunteers and members of the RNLI Queensferry Lifeboat crew.
“I feel it should be shared – I would like to share it with all those who have helped me get where I am today,” Rosemary said.
“It was not just me that did all this.”